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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Maternal adaptation to a child’s hospitalization Bishop, Gail Beverly


Ten mothers were interviewed during a three week period in August, 1981. The purpose of the interviews was to obtain information about their adaptation to the hospitalization of their children. The children were admitted to a pediatric unit of a large Vancouver hospital with acute medical problems. These problems were often infectious in nature and included gastroenteritis, viral meningitis, and respiratory tract infections. The ages of the children were between four months and ten years. Verbatim responses of the mothers were recorded in writing by the investigator and later analysed. The data were categorized according to Roy's Adaptation Model. Reliability of the data categorization was verified by two judges, independently. The model was suitable for classifying data in this type of research; however, one problem was encountered. It was difficult, at times, to separate the contextual and residual stimuli as they were not always mutually exclusive. Adaptive responses of the mothers were found in all of Roy's four adaptive modes. These responses included alterations in the mothers' abilities to meet their needs for nutrition and exercise and rest; role conflicts; feelings of loss, guilt, anxiety, and powerlessness; and both help-seeking and initiative-taking behaviours. The focal stimulus for the behaviours of nine of the mothers was the hospitalization of their children. Contextual stimuli included the age of the child; the help given by family and friends; work responsibilities; the presence of other children in the family; and the behaviours and attitudes of health team members. Residual stimuli were related mainly to the mother's previous experiences with hospitalization, either as a child herself or with her own children. Several implications were apparent. These included the need for increased contact between nurses and mothers; the need to provide more information to mothers about their children's progress and care; the need to obtain information about home treatments used by the mothers in order to provide teaching; and the need to make long-term hospitalizations a positive experience for children so that they would be able to cope with their own children's hospitalizations when they are parents. Several areas for future research were identified. These areas included exploration of the effects on maternal adaptation of factors such as the severity of the child's illness, the age of the child, and prior experiences with hospitalization of the children. As well, further study could be done of the effects of the educational background of the mother and her childhood hospitalization experiences upon the frequency of admissions of her children to hospital.

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